Last night, DDOT presented the Final Draft of its Union Station Intermodal Transportation Center Feasibility Study, the culmination of an 18-month effort by the Department and its partners to assess possible improvements to the functionality of DC’s most critical transportation facility. Project Manager Tomika Hughey described the 1908 station as the nerve center of the region and as “integral to moving the region’s people to different places” and the basic functioning of the federal government. Major renovations to the station were completed in 1988 that have cemented the station not only a transportation hub for the northeast corridor, but a major destination for retail and restaurants just blocks from the Capitol Building. But with a crush of development on all sides of the station and continued growth across all major transportation modes that use the facility, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton got federal funds for the study that focuses on the following areas:
- New Rail Passenger Concourse
- Upgraded Amtrak passenger concourse
- Improved Emergency Access & Egress
- Improvements to the Existing Rail Concourse
- Tour Bus & Commuter Parking Accommodations
- Streetcar Integration
- Pedestrian Tunnel from Union Station to 1st Street NE
- New Metrorail Entrance from the H Street Bridge (concept image below)
- Baseline Environmental Requirements Study
The study proposes millions in renovations to the facility to deal with a projected 20-50% increase in ridership of all modes between now and 2050. The major suggestions of the proposal include:
- Expansion of train concourses and more fully connect metro to the train concourses (in excess of $20 million)
- Construction of a pedestrian passageway north to H Street and general pedestrian improvements in the rear of the station on H Street (in excess of $20 million)
- Improve train platforms and construct an Intercity Bus Station (roughly $5 million)
- New interior wayfinding system (over $700,000)
Much of the impetus for this study, as Congresswoman Norton explained, is to position Union Station to benefit from transportation reauthorization legislation that is being debated between Congress and the Obama Administration.
DDOT representatives explained that we won’t have to wait years to see visible improvements to Union Station. Apparently, funds for the renovation, pedestrian and vehicular reconfiguration of Columbus Plaza in front of Union Station are already allocated. Construction on that project is expected to begin shortly and take approximately two years.
A representative from Akridge, the development company selected to construct a 3 million square-foot mixed-use development above the existing Union Station rail yard was present. The project, called Burnham Place, is planned to abut the H Street “Hop Scotch” Bridge and to coincide with DC’s planned streetcar at that location. The representative noted that given the complexity of the project and the state of financing, he didn’t anticipate construction on the platform over the tracks to begin for another three years. He expects actual construction of the platform that will support the project to take another 3-4 years.